Kobe Bryant

As Kobe Bryant continues his rehabilitation, following surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon in his left leg, he’s hoping to return for the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2013-14 season opener … with Dwight Howard back on the team.

The NBA legend tells ESPN.com that he still has to allow time to heal, but hopes he’s ready.

“I hope so,” Bryant said this week. “That’s the challenge. With the tendon, there’s really only but so much you can do. There’s a certain amount of time that they deem necessary for the tendon to heal where you don’t overstretch it and now you never get that spring back.

“So, you just have to be patient, let the tendon heal, and then when that moment comes when they say, ‘OK, we can take off the regulator so to speak and now it’s on you to train as hard as you can to get back to where you want to be,’ that’s going to be a good day.”

Additionally, with Dwight Howard becoming a free agent, people want to know how Kobe feels about the Lakers’ prospects of bringing the big man back.¬†While reports say Howard has a strong interest in the Houston Rockets, and other teams are expected to court him, Kobe says he’s in no rush to pitch him. Instead, he says he wants Howard to “do his due diligence”.

“We all want him here,” said Kobe. “But then, that’s when the selling begins [after Howard is courted by other teams]. You don’t start the selling process right before he goes and does all this stuff. You want to get the last word. You want to have the final word and the closing argument.

“I’ll give him a little opening statement, but then I have to make sure I have the final word.”

With, or without Howard, Kobe says the Lakers always find a way to compete.¬†“This franchise is a franchise that you really don’t have to worry about too much, because no matter what happens, whether it’s a year from now, two years from now, whatever the case may be, they’re always going to find a way to have an impact on this league,” Bryant said.